When it comes to racing in a down-home environment, NFS III offers the best.
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit
The Bottom Line
This series entry ups the ante on action and excitement.
It's something many of us dream about; racing down a highway at top speed, police on our tail, without the worries of paying a speeding ticket or going to jail. Just the road, the car, and the driver, all working together to create an exhilaration unlike any other. Electronic Arts seems to have captured that feeling in their latest release in the Need for Speed series, Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit.
This latest incarnation uses a radically enhanced graphics engine which reproduces the cars to the tiniest detail. (In the C5 Corvette, even the key fob hanging from the ignition is dead accurate) The third installment also brings back a popular option from the first NFS game, Pursuit Mode. The cops are back, and they are looking to spoil your good time on the road. There is no denying the beauty of this game from a graphical standpoint. Like all beauty, however, it comes at a price. To play on these streets, you'll have to bring a powerful setup, at least a Pentium 233MMX and a Voodoo card to experience this game in its full splendor. There is a software mode for those without a 3D card, but it does not come close to the accelerated version. On a P-II 300 with a Voodoo2 card, the visuals were downright stunning, from the cars to the streets to the leaves rustling on the ground. The game offers several different resolutions, though anything higher than 800X600 requires the best Intel or AMD have to offer.
Sound is also top-notch, with support for Creative's new EAX extensions (via the new Soundblaster Live! card) and A3D right out of the box. The mere sound of the fuzz talking about their pursuit of you does a great job of getting the adrenaline pumping.
Controlling the game is simple, and the best way to enjoy it is with a game pad. There are keyboard controls, but they can be daunting in the middle of a hot chase. The game offers several modes of play and nearly a dozen exotic cars to play in, but the best experience is the Hot Pursuit mode. This is the heart of the game. The cops come equipped for the challenge this time, with roadblocks, spike strips and C5 Corvettes. They'll even resort to bumping you off the road if they get the chance. You get two freebies. The third time you are pulled over, the race is done.
A new twist on this theme puts the player in the cop's seat, chasing around the bad guys in a police car Corvette trying to meet ticket quotas. This mode is fun, but it's difficult and can get a bit tedious. It isn't nearly as good as being the chasee.
The game is not without its faults. One glaring one is the inability to sustain any damage on your vehicle. What is the sense of setting up a roadblock when all you have to do is slam on the gas and bust right through the black and whites?
Also, though there are several different tracks listed in the game, many of them are only slightly different variations of the same track. After racing around for a couple of hours, the tracks lose their luster and the game gets a bit boring.
When it comes to realistic racing in a down-home environment, NFS III offers the best that is out there. No racing game to date has the graphics, the playability and the sheer excitement of this game.